French Arrest 2 in ETA Madrid Airport Bombing

Two men suspected of involvement in the deadly 2006 bombing at a Madrid airport by Basque separatist group ETA have been arrested in France, the French and Spanish interior ministers said Saturday.

A total of four suspected ETA members were arrested Friday night in Saint-Jean-de-Luz on France's southern Atlantic coast, the ministries said. Two are bombing suspects and the other two were their hosts. All four were in custody Saturday in nearby Bayonne.

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The two chief suspects "had been actively sought by judicial authorities and police, who suspect them of being involved in the deadly attack of December 2006," French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in a statement.

"These arrests have enabled us to deactivate a part of ETA's reception apparatus in France, which they used to hide those who had fled from Spain," her Spanish counterpart, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, said in Seville, Spain.

Spanish officials identified the suspects as Mikel San Sebastian, 29, and Joseba Iturbide, 30 — both suspected in the airport bombing that killed two people in December 2006. Their hosts were Jose Antonio Martinez Mur, 58, and his partner, Asuncion Bengoechea Arano, officials said.

Police raided the home after several weeks of surveillance, and resumed a detailed search early Saturday of the house where the four were arrested, the Spanish Interior Ministry said in a statement.

International arrest orders had been issued by Spain's National Court against San Sebastian and Iturbide, the statement said.

Martinez, whose trail the police have followed in Spain, France and Mexico, is suspected of having formed part of ETA's financial structure, the statement said. He is believed to have raised money for ETA in Mexico in the 1990s.

Paris prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation, judicial officials said.

The massive truck bombing on Dec. 30, 2006, at Terminal 4 of Madrid's airport destroyed a multistory parking garage and killed two Ecuadorean immigrants who were sleeping in cars inside the building.

Two other alleged ETA members were arrested in France in January in connection with the bombing.

ETA had declared what it called a permanent cease-fire in March 2006 in its decades-old battle for Basque independence, but had grown frustrated with a lack of government concessions in ensuing peace talks.

After the airport bombing, it insisted the deaths were unintended, but the government called off peace talks.

ETA declared the cease-fire formally over in June 2007, and has carried out nearly a dozen attacks since. Only one involved a killing — the death of two officers in December.